2017 Swiss Sermon Award: Prize-giving ceremony and book presentation event in November

The second Swiss Sermon Award of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches goes to Philipp Roth (Reformed, Basel-City), Alessandro Esposito (Waldensian, Italy) and Erich Häring (Catholic, Thurgau; special award). The double jury for the categories of German/Rhaeto-Romanic and French/Italian had received a total of 172 sermons. The award ceremony, along with a book presentation event, will take place November 5 from 5:30pm in Bern in the course of the Assembly of Delegates. The three winning sermons and ten additional submissions are published. They all show the vitality and creativity of a sermon culture that was crucially informed by the Swiss Reformation of the 16th century.

» Sermons

The sermon on Judges 11 was held in the course of a “crime story worship service”: In an insightful and absorbing manner, Philipp Roth recounts the tragical fate of the war hero Jephtha and his only daughter, and this narration gives rise to profound thoughts on the image of God. Civil disobedience as an expression of God’s love for life is the focus of Alessandro Esposito’s sermon, which draws on the Hebraic urtext: on the Hebrew midwives (Exodus 1:15-17) and on solidarity with refugees today. Erich Häring puts the lesson of “letting oneself be found by the lost” in the mouths of a corkscrew and a sheep (Luke 15:3-10): succinct, funny and profound.

Three women had shared the first sermon award in 2014; in 2017, the three winners are all men. The jury rates the sermons in anonymized form. It does not strive to meet any quota, say Caroline Schröder Field and Jean-Luc Blondel as the jury’s co-presidents. That one of the winners is Catholic was also a happy surprise for the jury. This time, there were no denominational restrictions for participating; about 30 sermons came from the Catholic side, and there were several submissions from the ranks of the free churches.

The ten additional sermons included in the publication were submitted by Brigitte Becker Linder (BE), Judith Engeler (TG), Ralph Kunz (ZH), Alain Monnard (VD), Sabine Müller Jahn (BE), Markus Perrenoud (BL), Jean-François Ramelet (VD), Christine Sieber-Feitknecht (BE), Antoine Schluchter (VD) and Markus Zürcher (BE). “The sermon is an opportunity for the churches and for society, perhaps today more than ever. An opportunity to talk about that which allows us to live, hope and love, to let ourselves be addressed and transformed by God so that we can better follow his call in the world,” said Council President Gottfried Locher.

The sermon texts are available in printed and electronic form on www.sek.ch.

» The winners (pictures)